Supporting the community, sustaining our future.

Shallow gas drilling in your community

Minimizing our shallow gas operational impact in your community is front-of-mind to everyone who works at Ember. We’ve compiled a list of commonly asked questions outlining the measures we undertake to protect the best interests of our stakeholders.

Does shallow gas development require additional permanent roads and power lines?

Ember employs minimum disturbance practices when drilling and operating shallow gas projects, greatly reducing the need for additional roads. Completed shallow gas well sites measure 10′ x 10′; crops can be grown right up to the wellhead enclosures. Ember’s Horseshoe Canyon shallow gas wells produce very small amounts of water; therefore bottom-hole pumps and associated surface equipment are rarely installed.

Does Ember ever use existing wellbores to produce shallow gas?

Existing wells can be recompleted into shallow gas production if the wellbore is mechanically suitable for re-completion. Ember co-mingles shallow gas from coal seams and conventional shallow gas production from current and future wells, minimizing the number of wellbores required to produce the shallow natural gas reserves in the area.

How many compressor stations will be required?

Shallow gas reservoirs are very low pressure so production requires a significant amount of compression power. Ember’s preference is to install a large central compression site capable of handling the production from many sections of wells. Satellite compression may be required where there are limitations to gas gathering systems.

How much noise can we expect?

Ember is committed to compliance with all industry standards with respect to noise, emissions and safety. Shallow gas operations create no more noise than conventional gas operations. Ember follows all Alberta legislated standards.

How much traffic is involved in shallow gas development? What are Ember's dust control measures?

Local traffic increases during the drilling and completion operations, normally one week per well. When drilling, completion and tie-in operations are finished, the wells will require, on average, less than one visit per month by a pickup truck. Ember utilizes water spraying as the primary dust control method and alternately employs other dust control methods, as allowed by county regulations.

How much water will these shallow gas wells produce?

Horseshoe Canyon coal seam shallow gas reservoirs do not contain significant volumes of moveable water. Ember’s shallow gas wells produce very small amounts of water, primarily as water vapor in the gas. Consequently, produced water storage is rarely installed at the well site.

How will Ember protect my water wells?

Ember follows all regulatory recommendations by the AER. We offer to test all water wells within a 600 m to 800 m radius of the proposed shallow gas well prior to operations being conducted above base of ground water. The purpose of this test is to establish groundwater baseline properties, which serve as a point of comparison in the unlikely event that there is a change in water quality or quantity. This process protects both the users of local water resources and the shallow gas industry.

Will the gas migrate to the surface or into water wells or fresh water aquifers?

Shallow gas in this area is held in place by impermeable rock barriers, therefore, the gas can only travel to the surface through wellbores. During drilling, the wellbore is completed with two casing strings which are both cemented in place to isolate groundwater resources from productive shallow gas horizons. This ensures there is no contact between aquifers and shallow gas production.

Ember has developed shallow gas specific drilling and completion techniques to ensure regulatory and environmental compliance and minimize any potential short- or long-term effects to the local water resources.

Will there be flaring during well site operations?

The completion process uses nitrogen, an inert gas, to stimulate the wells. Venting and flaring are required to remove the nitrogen and bring the methane concentrations to pipeline specifications. Recent technology developments have greatly reduced the average time and amount of gas being vented and flared.

What types of greenhouse gas emissions does shallow gas flaring produce?

The combustion products from burning shallow gas are the same as those from a household furnace. Shallow gas test flaring produces lower greenhouse gas emissions due to the high methane content of the gas, the comparatively low flow-back rates and relatively short flare duration.

What about other gas emissions from shallow gas flaring?

Flaring emissions have been studied at the University of Alberta on behalf of the Government of Alberta and the Clean Air Strategic Alliance (CASA). Detailed study of the emissions from shallow gas and shallow gas flaring indicated that “toxic emissions (such as PHA, BTEX, Formaldehydes)” are not emitted in measurable amounts even under conditions of low combustion efficiency.